Web of belief
I am a Christian.
Strange as it may seem, it’s not something that I believe. I’m not saying “I believe ABC”, or “I belong to church XYZ”. This is something that I am. It goes deeper than simply a mental assent to a bunch of facts; it goes to the core of who and what I am. It’s hard to define me without taking this into account.
So label me already!
The more I read about the cultural shift towards post-modernism, the more it resonates within me. I was born on the cusp of this movement which leaves me an outsider when hanging out with the younger crowd that believe as I do, and an outsider when spending time with the Boomers that are more my age, yet think more along the lines of modernists.
When I’ve spent time with believers in Charismatic circles, I am usually labelled”too conservative” and “evangelical”. When I am with Catholic believers, they tolerate me but I am almost always “too protestant”. With Arminians I can end up being “too Calvinist” and yet the Calvinists I know think I show a distinct tendancy to be “too Arminian”. I am too “fundamentalist” when talking to folks generally online. In Vineyard churches I come over as being a little too “Pentecostal” for some. I hate labels
Web of Belief
I heard the phrase “web of belief” in a magazine a couple of months ago. It has a nice “ring” to it, neatly encapsulating the idea that the things I believe are inter-connected in many ways.
I hunted around the ‘net and recently came across the article again. The late Stan Grenz (Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver) said :
If the old canvas [of theology] was like a building, where you start with a foundation and then you construct your “house of knowledge” on top of it, the new philosophical approach uses other images, one of which is the “web of belief.” I prefer talking about a ‘mosaic,’ which I think its more helpful than ‘web’. The idea is that all of our beliefs, rather than resting on something which is immutable, are instead inter-related and inter-connected. They support each other. They create a mosaic, which is shifting as new pieces come in and others go, but remains mostly the same.
Occasionally, however, the mosaic itself becomes so disfigured that the whole thing has to go and a new mosaic takes its place. We would call that a paradigm shift.
There are clear things I believe, inescapable truths that caused a paradigm shift in my life back in 1989. Jesus Christ, all the fullness of diety in human form, died a death He didnt deserve. The central and immutable fact of His resurrection from the dead shows He has the power to accomplish all He claims He will do. My own wrongdoing and sin (yes, an old fashioned word but I’m going to stick with it) separates me from God and only by exchanging places with Christ can I be seen as clean; Jesus died a death he didnt deserve that I could live my life in a relationship with God, that I dont deserve. He came to earth that I could have life in all it’s fullness.
“Verbo dicam: Si nos servaremus IN necesariis Unitatem, IN non-necessariis Libertatem, IN UTRISQUE Charitatem, optimo certe loco essent res nostrae.”
[In a word, I’ll say it: if we preserve unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and charity in both, our affairs will be in the best position.]